Yesterday I read the rightfully infuriating news that the Western Black Rhinoceros has been declared extinct. Only it wasn’t really news. The Western Black Rhino has been extinct since 2011. But in this fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget when an animal quietly sulks off into the night. Only that wasn’t the case here at all.
In 2000, _Diceros bicornis ssp. longipes _was classified as critically endangered due to poachers seeking their horns. The rhino has no ivory. Its horns are made of layers of keratin, the same material that makes up hair and fingernails. The demand for the horns comes soley from practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which prize the horn as a remedy for just about everything*. Of course, TCM with all its mysticism, alchemy, and superstition is just that. It’s magic. Not only that, but it was invented in the 1950’s as a way to unite China against western influences.
Seriously. Traditional Chinese Medicine is crap, built upon the fallacy of “ancient wisdom” and the enticement of “natural” treatments that work on your body’s magical energy pathways (that don’t exist). And as people take their herbs (What’s in them? Do they really know?) and get needles put in their backs or have themselves a magic liver-curing foot massage, they’ve become implicit in the extinction of an entire subspecies, and the endangering of many more. When you ask “What’s the harm?”, there it is. That’s the harm.
In the 2 years since the announcement was made, most people forgot about the rhino—or had never known in the first place. How far does it have to go before people stop buying into this nonsense? There aren’t many rhinos left, and tigers are next on the list, with over 97% of tigers disappearing within the past century alone. The next generation is all set to grow up in a world without rhinos, tigers, or elephants. What kind of a crappy world is that? Some of the most beautiful creatures on Earth will be nothing more than mythical—spoken about as if they were unicorns.
I have very select, strong words for people who buy into TCM. Especially all the smart people—college-educated people with internet connections—who don’t spend 10 minutes looking into how stupid it is: You should be ashamed of yourself. Please go away.
*It’s often erroneously stated that rhino horn was used to increase potency or as an aphrodisiac, but this is probably the only thing it isn’t used for. Don’t know why I’m clearing this up, it’s all a load of crap.